Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best of Boston Eats 2010

This year I uncovered a passion for writing about food that I suspect will stay with me for a long time to come. So far, I'm realizing that I can put a positive spin on almost any dish I eat and generally I look seek out the goodness more than I look to determine the flaws. Often my palate does not attempt to discriminate, it simply looks to appreciate. What I do know for sure is some dishes are better than others. I ate some good meals out in Boston this year and I ate some great meals out in Boston this year. As 2010 comes to an abrupt halt I've decided to reminisce before 2011 graces us with her presence. The spectacular deserved to be celebrated, appreciated and savored in memory. I believe the winners to be well deserved! Taste rules and presentation counts. Presenting my personal favorite Boston restaurant eats in 2010. Enjoy!

Favorite Appetizer: 2010 was the year of the appetizer. I broke this category down into seasonal favorites since embracing fresh produce and ingredients are important when creating a standout dish. On the contrary, sometimes an excellent dish is evocative of a memory and a feeling even when all the components aren't necessarily in season. Ah who am I kidding, I ate so damn many appetizers that I needed to award four as opposed to two.Winter Winner: Ragout of Local Forest Mushrooms with House Made Rabbit Sausage, Farm Fresh Poached Egg | Craigie On MainWinter Runner Up: Seared Foie Gras with Confit of Duck in Brioche with Wisconsin Dried Cherry Gastrique | Mistral Summer Winner: Prosciutto Americano with Asparagus, Fava Beans, Shaved Pecorino, Candied Walnuts, Breakfast Radishes & Black Truffle Vinaigrette | Ten Tables CambridgeSummer Runner Up: Chilled Corn Soup with Roasted Corn & Jalapeno | WoodwardFavorite Salad: It would be painstakingly difficult to categorize the salads in with the appetizers, even though they are often representative of an appetizer course and not a whole meal. (In my case!) I ate more phenomenal salads in 2010 than I realized as I set out in search of the winners. Creative ingredients were plentiful and I can still recreate the distinct tastes from memory months after eating. It was also the vibrant presentations that wowed me all the way to the finish. Winner: Native Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Market Raspberry Vinegar, Vermont Goat Cheese & Thai Basil | Upstairs On The SquareRunner up: Frisèe and Goat Cheese Salad with Pickled Peaches & Crystallized Wasabi | Market (half portion pictured)Favorite Flatbread: Those specialty thin crust delights taking over menus and doing a damn good job of it, why yes I ate a lot of those too. The more inventive ingredients you can pair on one thin crust and make it work, the better. The runner up boasts a list longer than life with sauteed calamari, scallops, shrimp, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, tomatine and parsley. In the toughest match up yet, it was a tenderloin, caramelized onion and white truffle oil pairing for the win.

Winner: Beef Tenderloin, Mashed Potato & White Truffle Oil | Mistral
Runner Up: Thin Crust Pizzetta di Mare | Mare
Favorite Side of Brussel Sprouts. A small disclaimer to note these might be the only ones of their kind I ate out at a restaurant. Hey, it's my list - anything goes! I could literally eat a bowl of the winner and the runner up for breakfast lunch and dinner.
Winner: Served in a Cast Iron Skillet with Crispy Pancetta and Parsley | MistralRunner Up: Cooked in Duck Fat | Craigie On MainBest Burger: You better believe I had my fair share of burgers in this city. I'm looking forward to trying many more of Boston's infamous in 2011.
Winner: "The Burger" 9 oz of Ground Beef, Vermont Cheddar, Horseradish & Crispy Onions on a Toasted Brioche Bun | RadiusRunner up: Oak Bar Kobe Beef Burger | The Oak Bar, Fairmont Copley PlazaBest Tuna Tartare: Honesty is the best policy. I am pretty sure I only ate three Tuna Tartares (in Boston) this year. Market's has my heart. Mistral nailed it sans my one true love: avocado. Winner: Avocado, Spicy Radish, Ginger Dressing | Market
Runner up: Crispy Wontons, Ginger Soy | Mistral
Favorite Risotto. I didn't eat a lot of risotto this year. Here's to the two I do remember eating, lucky for them the competition was slim to none. Regardless, I wouldn't have shared if they weren't top notch. Winner: Red Wine Risotto with Figs and Radicchio | RialtoRunner up: Risotto alla Pescatore | Rabia's Favorite Pasta Dish: Whose to say you shouldn't order this carb filled staple out at a restaurant? Come on people, live a little. Winner: Bison Bolognese | The Abbey Runner Up: Spaghetti alla Carbonara | ArtuFavorite Seafood Pasta Dish: It's a whole new ballgame when you add shellfish to the mix. An entirely different pasta dish a clam or shrimp makes.
Winner: Linguine Alle Vongole Macciato | Trattoria il Panino
Runner Up: Fettuccine Con Gamberi | Ristorante Villa Francesca
Favorite Fish Dish: Here fish fishy fishy! From Hake and Halibut to Sole, Salmon, and Swordfish, can't forget good old Cod and then there's the coveted Tuna, I'm always up for fish. Paired with seasonal vegetables and inventive sauces, the winners come in unexpected forms in what was a very close match of Cape Cod Bluefish and Grilled Rainbow Trout. Winner: Cape Cod Bluefish with Yellow Indian Woman Beans, Sugar Snaps, Pea Tendrils & Spicy Spanish Chorizo Sauce | Ten Tables CambridgeRunner Up: Grilled Rainbow Trout with Charred Leeks, Funghi Trifolat & Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette | Mare

Best Scallop Entree: Definitely a shellfish I need to be in a particular mood for. I think I cooked more scallops at home this year than I ate out. In any case, when the cravings struck, these dishes delivered.
Winner: Seared Scallops with Corn and Bacon Succotash | Woodward
Runner Up: Scallops with Red Wine Lobster Sauce and Chanterelles | RialtoBest Cheesey Bites: OK, now I'm just reaching. In all seriousness, fried cheese as a prequel to a meal, perhaps enjoyed with a glass of wine or a cocktail at the bar never tasted so good.
Fried Halloumi Cheese | The Abbey

Runner Up: Spinach Cheese Fritters | Market
Best Eggs Benedict: Can't forget the most important meal of the day! A regular brunch craving of mine, a plate of runny poached eggs coated in velvety hollandaise over a toasted english muffin, and all seems well in the world. Winner: Bostonian Benedict | North 26Runner Up: Grilled Shrimp Eggs Benedict | Caffe NuovoFavorite French Toast: I'm learning to branch out at brunch! Thankfully, these decadent dishes did not disappoint my cravings for something other than eggs. Grabbing the win just in the nick of time is a dish from brunch last weekend that I haven't even given a proper review yet. Winner: Nutella and Banana thick Cut Brioche French Toast | Harvard GardensRunner Up: French Toast with Sauteed Apples and Bacon | Market
[Rather than spend 8 hours linking the dishes back to their respective posts, check out my Restaurant & Bar Listings Page where you can locate my review of the experience as a whole at the various winning establishments!!]

Fortunately, the above list doesn't even begin to cover desserts or cocktails, never mind the win worthy non-Boston eats. It is fun and rather enlightening to recap the year in food, so there could very well be more award posts focusing on travel eats, drinks and sweets in my future!

What were some of your favorite dishes in 2010?!


  1. What a fun list! Thanks for sharing Daisy. Looks like ate quite your share of good food in 2010. I am now somewhat considering doing my own best of list but for sweets. We shall see...

  2. I starred this in my Google Reader so that I can go to some of these restaurants and try out your favorites. 2010 was an amazing year of eating! :)

  3. Great post! Makes me want to head back to Market pronto. I love it there!

  4. Ok so I think I ate a total of 11 of those winners and runners-up with you!! Yes, I counted. Ha ha. The tuna tartare at Market and at Mistral was awesome. And I loved our entire dinner at Upstairs on The Square so that heirloom tomato salad is definitely way up there. I'm not sure I could nail down my favorites like this. I might end up creating a lot more categories. :) Can't wait to see a dessert favorite list!

  5. Loved this post, girl!
    Holy deliciousness, btw ;)

  6. I love this as it tells me all the places in Boston I need to try!

  7. This is a great list. Mistral shows up a lot. I think I need to haul my ass there! Happy holidays girl!

  8. Fun list, looks like I need to get to Market ASAP! Also curious to see your fave drinks and desserts!

  9. Wow, this post just made me really hungry! I'm glad that we met this year and got to enjoy so many lovely meals together, including last night's dinner!

  10. Such a great post!! I just had those brussel sprouts from Craigie last night - they were phenomenal. You've certainly had some amazing meals this year... here's to hoping 2011 brings as many good eats!!

  11. I am working on a best of post for next week. I love this recap of the year and am happy that I was present at some of the meals pictured :) What a great year for food and friends!

  12. Love this post, I'll make a similar one soon! I'm so glad that many of your favorite dishes was from our dinner at Mistral! We'll have to meet up again soon. Happy holidays! xoxo

  13. you have certainly eaten alot of amazing looking food! it's official- i must try ten tables!

  14. Such beautiful foods ~ and you got to eat all of them! You are certainly blessed, also because you stay in such good shape! Thank you for a wonderful year of Indulge~Inspire~Imbibe.
    I look forward to 2011 with you!

  15. Wow, will have to remember this post next time in Boston...they all sure look great!

  16. So fun to look at all those photos and remember soem of your posts of those meals... so much good stuff. love that ten tables is up there so much : ) And Radius will always be the best burger! EVER!

  17. Looks like an awesome year in food! Now I'm hungry.